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What to expect in the first few weeks after your baby's birth, including checks, feeding and poo.
Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after the birth can help keep her or him warm and can help with getting breastfeeding started.
Some babies feed immediately after birth and others take a little longer.
The midwives will help you whether you choose to:
It's normal for babies to lose some weight in the first few days after birth. Putting on weight steadily after this is a sign your baby is healthy and feeding well.
Read more about your baby's weight, and your baby's nappies, including healthy poo.
A children's doctor (paediatrician), midwife or newborn (neonatal) nurse will check your baby is well and will offer him or her a newborn physical examination within 72 hours of birth.
In the early days, the midwife will check your baby for signs of:
On day 5 to 8 after the birth, you'll be offered the blood spot (heel prick) test for your baby.
Before you baby is 5 weeks old you should be offered a newborn hearing screening test.
If your baby is in special care, these tests may be done there. If your baby is at home, the tests may be done at your home by the community midwife team.
Learn how to tell when a baby is seriously ill.
Make sure you know how to put your baby to sleep safely to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
You don't need to bathe your baby every day. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead.
Most babies will regain their birthweight in the first 2 weeks. Around this time their care will move from a midwife to a health visitor.
The health visitor will check your baby's growth and development at regular appointments and record this in your baby's personal child health record (PCHR), also known as their "red book".
The maternity staff caring for you will check you're recovering well after the birth.
They will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure.
They'll also feel your tummy (abdomen) to make sure your womb is shrinking back to its normal size.
Some women feel tummy pain when their womb shrinks, especially when they're breastfeeding. This is normal.
Midwives will agree a plan with you for visits at home or at a children's centre until your baby is around 10 days old. This is to check that you and your baby are well and support you in these first few days.
You'll have bleeding (lochia) from your vagina for a few weeks after you give birth.
The bleeding usually stops by the time your baby is 12 weeks old.
It could be a sign of infection.
Make sure you know the signs of a serious heavy bleed after giving birth (postpartum haemorrhage, or PPH). This is rare and needs emergency care.
This could mean you're having a very heavy bleed (postpartum haemorrhage) and need emergency treatment.
Read more about your body after the birth, including when you might need urgent medical attention.
When you're breastfeeding in the early days, breastfeed your baby as often as they want. This may be every 2 hours.
Let your baby decide when they've had enough (this is called baby-led feeding).
You can express your breast milk if you're having problems with breastfeeding. Problems can include breast engorgement or mastitis.
Get breastfeeding and bottle feeding advice.
Crying is your baby's way of telling you they need comfort and care. It can be hard to know what they need, especially in the early days.
There are ways you can soothe your crying baby.
Find out how to cope if you feel stressed after having a baby. There are support services for new parents that may help.
You may feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is normal.
If these feelings start later or last for more than 2 weeks after giving birth, it could be a sign of postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression and anxiety are common, and there is treatment. Speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed or anxious.
You can have sex as soon as you feel ready after having a baby.
There are no rules about when to have sex after giving birth. Every woman's physical and emotional changes are different.
You can get pregnant from 3 weeks (21 days) after giving birth. This can happen before you have a period, even if you're breastfeeding.
You need to start using contraception from 21 days after the birth every time you have sex if you don't want to get pregnant again.
Talk to your doctor, midwife or contraception (family planning) nurse about contraception after having a baby. They can arrange contraception before you have sex for the first time.
Being active may feel like a challenge when you're tired, but gentle exercise after childbirth can help your body recover and may help you feel more energetic.
You should also do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and anus.
It's important to continue taking any medication prescribed unless your GP/specialist specifically tells you to stop. Please visit our Existing Health Conditions page for more information, or visit 'Bumps' ('Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy').
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